MOJAVE, Calif. – Today, Virgin Galactic, the world’s first commercial spaceline, which is owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and Abu Dhabi’s aabar Investments PJS, successfully completed the third rocket-powered supersonic flight of its passenger carrying reusable space vehicle, SpaceShipTwo (SS2). In command on the flight deck of SS2 for the first time under rocket power was Virgin Galactic’s Chief Pilot Dave Mackay. Mackay, along with Scaled Composites’ (Scaled) Test Pilot Mark Stucky, tested the spaceship’s Reaction Control System (RCS) and the newly installed thermal protection coating on the vehicle’s tail booms. All of the test objectives were successfully completed.Read More
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Next week will see ESA’s most ambitious planetary rover test yet. Robotic exploration of a Mars-like desert in South America will be overseen from the UK, providing experience for future missions to the Red Planet.
The rover faces the desolate Atacama Desert in northern Chile, one of the closest terrestrial matches for Mars. Among the driest places on Earth, it lacks any vegetation and its red–brown soil and rocks make it look even more like Mars.
The aim is to build up experience in operating rovers on a planet, which requires a very different way of working from a satellite mission.
For added pressure on the rover’s remote overseers – based at the Satellite Applications Catapult facility in Harwell, UK, next to ESA’s European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications – eac...Read More